Saturday, June 30, 2012

"How Much Is Mr. .... Worth? I Heard He Manages Over A Billion Dollars!"

I wrote someone an email and decided to publicize it [omitting of course personal details].

People often talk about how much money other people possess. A rich person is called by chazal "אמיד" which means "assessed" because people are wont to assess a rich persons wealth.

It is no secret that I am trying to build up a yeshiva/kollel which requires vast funding. This of course creates an interest in knowing how much money people have. I must confess - the entire idea sickens me. BY GOLLY - What business of mine is it to know how much money people have?! Moreover, nobody really knows how much money other people have. A person can be living a very extravagant lifestyle and have a fancy house while being poor. The fancy vacations he pays for with borrowed money and the house he bought when he was doing well. Recently I went to a very expensive house and was told by an insider that contrary to public opinion the owner is not rich at all and business is down.

I am happy I know that information so that I can daven for him and so that I STOP judging people based on their externals.

Let us stop the conversations on who is "worth" what and mind our own business unless there is some practical benefit in knowing. There is too much good to be accomplished in this world to take up our valuable time on matters that don't pertain to us.

Love and blessings:-)

3 Days Left

On our journey towards collecting 20k which will be matched by a special Jew, we have reached approximately 10k and need 10k within three days. PLEASE email or call to tell me if you have donated.

 Again: Tax deductable checks can be made out to Ohr David Outreach 326 Kingston Avenue Brooklyn New York 11213. Anyone who wants to donate with a credit card can do so by calling me at 212 799 1124.

THANXXXX for being my partner in supporting Torah study and תזכו למצוות!!!!!!!!

Getting Your Prayers Answered

A lady approached me in shul after davening and asked me how she could get her prayers answered. She has been davening to Hashem for a long time for something specific [I have a strong inkling as to what but she didn't say so explicitly..] and even sacrificed to get it but it hasn't come.

One answer to her question might be a pasuk in Ashrei: קרוב ה' לכל קוראיו לכל אשר יקראוהו באמת - Hashem is close to those who call out to Him with complete sincerity. However it doesn't say that you necessarily get what you asked for just that you are close to Him.

I really don't think that there is a specific formula to GUARANTEE that one will get the desired response to a tfilla. Hashem just has a different and more all encompassing perspective on our lives. Everyone feels as if he is lacking SOMETHING be it in the material or spiritual realms. Our job is to daven, believe, daven more, believe more but all the while embrace the reality in which we find ourselves.

Tough job: Daven for change while at the accepting the present reality as being the perfect situation for our well being.

Many people want to control reality. I am one of those people. I am convinced that if I have control I will make everything right.

I am wrong.

PS- I asked her name and promised to daven. Maybe you will join me. Shoshana Rishka bas Leah Baila.

Quote Of The Day


Antione de Saint Exupery

The Post That Wasn't

I love writing. I find that it is emotionally theraputic, stimulates intellectual creativity and is a great avenue to share the ideas that Hashem has bestowed upon me [in all of his mercy] to a wider audience.

I started writing a summary of the two drashos I gave over Shabbos in shul and stopped in the middle.


I just felt that the written word could not accurately convey what I said and how I said it. That is the secret of Torah she-beal peh; a living transmission of the word of Hashem. Torah she-bichtav is NOT enough. The written word cannot completely encompass an idea. Once I turned my thoughts into Torah she-beal peh I felt that writing them down would be a yerida. In fact, it was originally FORBIDDEN to record Torah she-beal peh on paper [and was only permitted due to extenuating circumstances]. Now I understand why. The human being is defined by Unkelos as a רוח ממללא - a talking spirit. How can one replace a talking spirit by hitting squares on a keyboard?

He can't.

The written word just lacks a certain spirit.

Pick up a Rebbe and go to his shiurim....

Friday, June 29, 2012

Defining Success

From from Mori V'rabi the Tolna Rebbe Shlita.

We all seek quick success. We pursue individuals whom we deem "successful." Likewise, we run from our failures and are embarrassed to admit them.

The ever-present question is, "How can we be successful?"
Joseph is the first person referred to in the Torah as a "successful man." But at what venture in his life does this happen? When he was the beloved son in his father's home or when he was a viceroy in Egypt?

The answer, surprisingly, is neither. Joseph is referred to as a successful man when he was a slave by Potiphar, and then again when he was in the dark, dingy pit of an Egyptian prison.

Was this Joseph's success in life—to be sold by his brothers as a slave, only to be thrown into jail by the master he served faithfully?

The "Falsified" Contract

The Talmud tells us that there are several ways to validate the authenticity of a signed contract, to establish that it isn't a forgery. One method is comparing the signatures on the contract to a previous document with the same signatories. However, this document used to authenticate the current contested contract must have been verified by a court of law after its authenticity, too, was contested.

Such a contract is considered weightier than another contract (even if its authenticity was also vouched for by a court) that was never the subject of any contention.

The seventh Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, explains that a contract the people pronounce a forgery is like an individual who goes through a crisis, a letdown, a depressing fiasco. When the person overcomes the crisis, he is stronger; he can be a contract used to approve other contracts. Essentially, without that bump in the road, he would not be as strong as he has become.

As such, the Rebbe offered a different definition of success.

Success is not about an individual who has no flaws, who lives a perfect life. Joseph's life in jail was far from ideal; in fact his spirit was broken. Success is when one goes through a crisis and, instead of falling prey to despair, stands up and declares that he/she will not be defeated.
When one burrows himself inside a hole, he has done the exact opposite. But when one utilizes that moment of despair, he comes out a stronger person, stronger than one who never experienced that challenge. That individual has developed the capacity to be stronger in yet more complex situations, for he has already overcome them.

Crying for "Naught"

How many times did the Rebbe cry of the danger that would befall Israel if the Sinai Desert is returned to Egypt?

The Rebbe corresponded with members of the Israeli government and military over the course of years about the grave situation that would be created by leaving Sinai. He developed close connections with these individuals, and they would often seek his counsel.

But the fact is that Sinai was ultimately returned to the Egyptians.

For an individual like the Rebbe to spend much of two years speaking about the safety of Jews in Israel only to be betrayed by the very people he devoted so much energy to, is what we would call the ultimate failure.

And had he felt like a failure, perhaps he would have written off the Israeli government saying, "You guys want to take your path, go ahead, but keep me out of it. You are not welcome in my office anymore."

However, two days after Sinai was evacuated, an Israeli general came to the Rebbe for a private audience. He had prepared many different reasons for why the Israeli government did not listen to the Rebbe's advice.

The Israeli general told me in these words, "What happened did not interest [the Rebbe] one iota; he had already turned the page. The Israel-Egypt border was now a new situation, and he wanted to know how it was being protected. He was worried about the security of those living in Israel."

Anyone could have asked the Rebbe: "The Israelis did not listen; they turned their backs on you. The situation flopped. Perhaps it's time to cut the ties?"

While we may think that the bottom line is success or failure, according to the Rebbe, success is measured differently. From Joseph, known as "the successful man" while imprisoned in Egypt, we learn that effort, and all that results from effort, is the real success. For Joseph, this meant that though he was imprisoned, he still employed tremendous effort to maintain the spiritual standards of his father's home.

One day, one of the Rebbe's secretaries encountered a certain individual in Lubavitch World Headquarters. The secretary asked this person, who lived in a certain New Jersey city: "Do you know this and this individual from your city?" When he responded affirmatively, the secretary requested that he tell that person that the Lubavitcher Rebbe's secretariat takes interest in how he is doing.
This individual in whom the secretary expressed interest later related this story to me. When he received the message from the Rebbe's secretary, he told the messenger that he had no strength to travel to Brooklyn to find out what this was all about, but he asked for the secretariat's phone number.
When he called, the secretary told him as follows: "The Rebbe heard that there is a Jewish day school in your area that is on the brink of closure due to low student registration. Since you are the administrator of another school in the area, the Rebbe requested that you work on increasing the enrollment in that endangered school."

"But it's not of the same religious orientation as mine," he protested. "I do not feel that it is befitting for me to be involved with that school."

The secretary responded that if he so wishes he could make an appointment for an audience with the Rebbe, at which point he could explain directly to the Rebbe why he feels that he shouldn't get involved. "However, you should know that the Rebbe feels that you are the best person for the job..."
Not wishing to disregard the Rebbe's wishes, he made an appointment. He prepared a long letter that contained eighteen reasons why he felt that he cannot take the position.

He handed the letter to the Rebbe. The Rebbe read it and asked him: "Tell me, are these eighteen explanations sufficient reason that eighteen – or more – children enrolled in the school should now lose the opportunity to have a Jewish education?

"If you accept the position, I am certain that G‑d will broaden your resources—giving you more time and capabilities."

Leaving the Rebbe's office, he felt like a person on a mission. He threw himself into the task of increasing the school's enrollment. His efforts paid off, and enrollment tripled in a short time.

He wrote a very proud letter to the Rebbe, listing all his successes.

The Rebbe responded. Between his blessings and remarks, he also added in one word: "Success?"

The principal was stunned! A short while later found him once again in the Rebbe's room for a private audience.

"What was the comment on his letter supposed to mean?" he asked the Rebbe.

The Rebbe gently asked him to define success. The Rebbe then asked him whether one can herald as a success having a few dozen children enrolled in a school—when there are so many more children who still are receiving no Jewish education.

"But I tripled the enrollment," the individual protested, "is that not considered success?"

The Rebbe explained to him that success means exerting effort; it's the continued struggle to do what is right.

That person walked out of the office with indeed a new perspective on success. He understood that the Rebbe appreciated very much his efforts—but didn't want him to rest on his laurels, there was so much more to be done.

Success is a continual struggle in life.

I remind myself that prosperity is not always success, and crisis does not mean failure. Success is measured by our struggles and efforts to do what is right. Success is not measured by forecasts, polls and the situations we find ourselves in. Success is when we turn struggle into empowerment, and then that very struggle will lead to other successes, more powerful then the previous one.

A shiur on the parsha and the importance of talmud torah here

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hashgacha Every Step Of The Way

Sweetest friends! As you know I am a huge chossid of the Sfas Emes. One of his most commonly stated principles is that the more you are aware of Hashem's presence in your life the more he will show you that he is present. I try to live that way and have seen remarkable things in my lifetime.

But this trip takes the cake. Day after day I have seen such amazing hashgacha pratis that it is almost unbelievable. I am almost at the point that when the miraculous happens I am not even surprised. I would love to relate some stories but in the meantime I will not publicize them on the blog although privately I have been telling people selected stories. [Kotzker: Not everything said should be written down].

So if anyone ever tells you they doubt the existence of Hashem - please send them my way... He is RIGHT WITH ME holding my hand.


Please - live your life as if He is with you and He will show you how right you are...

Public Service Message

I received an email from Rabbi Nissel that he is in Madrid and needs money etc. I am sure many people received this email and of course it's a scam so don't send. Be careful of scam artists...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Baruch Hashem!!!!

Today was the BIGGEST day in our kollel's history. A very very fine and generous baal tzedaka asked me to publicize on the blog that if I can raise 20 thousand dollars in the next week HE WILL MATCH IT!!!


This is the salvation I was waiting for and Hashem brought it via his faithful messenger who asked to remain nameless.




I love you guys too.... To get me to love you a donation is not necessary.

Shabbos Program

I will be speaking this shabbos morning at the West Side Institutional Synagouge and at shaleshudes as well. Please come and be mechazek me [and to laugh loudly at my jokes]. Free! I am sure there will be a kiddush after davening as well....

Quote Of The Day

"We find comfort among those who agree with us. Growth among those who don't"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


A small expression of gratitude to the hosts and all those who attended the shiur last night in the Heights. Hopefully you gained as much as I did.

May Hashem bless you all....:-)

Monday, June 25, 2012


It is rare that I have so much regret over a post. But over the Baruch Hashem post I do. It seems that people took from it that I am down and it in turn brought them down with me.

So let me explain. I am not down. My nature is that when things don't go my way I get down for a few minutes and then my mind starts filling with optimistic, upbeat thoughts. Sometimes it is just the physical fatigue I feel but after a good nap everything is all better. I am not able to sustain negativity or sadness for any extended period of time. That is the nature with which Hashem blessed me.

The point of that post was to show that even though things are not running as smoothly as I would have hoped, my spirits are still high and I walk happily with Hashem. I have seen many small miracles in the last month since my journey began. Unfortunately that is NOT what some people got from it so I APOLOGIZE. The lesson was supposed to be that we all should not let things get us down when they are not going exactly as planned.

Optimism has been scientifically proven to be the most primary determinant [is that a word? Now it is..:-)] of success [see Learned Optimism by Prof. Martin Seligmann - AWE-SOME!]. It is often also an indication that one has a strong trust in Hashem.

So I will be clear: No, things are not going as well as I want but I am SURE that it is all part of the process. Growing pains are necessary for any successful endeavor. Today I received an email from a Rabbi with whom I am friendly and he remarked that Hashem has great things in store for me. I really believe that He does. BARUCH HASHEM!!:-)

I will conclude with a bracha that Hashem give all of my readers and all of klal yisrael "brachos ad bli dy" - limitless blessing.

Love to all!!

PS - All feedback about the blog is GREATLY appreciated. Thanx!

WHAT An Opportunity!!

Those who were unable to make it last night can STILL be my partners in spreading Torah!!!

The address is 326 Kingston Ave. Brooklyn NY 11213. Checks can be made out to Ohr David Outreach and next to memo write either "iyun hanefesh" or my name.

With eternal Torah blessings and much love,


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quote Of The Day

What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization.

Abraham Maslow

Tonight In Cedarhurst

I thank everyone who attended tonight's meeting and particularly the kind hosts. It was a boost of chizuk to see everyone.


Love always



Sweetest friends!!

A problem I am having. There is a sfira ["Divine sphere and quality" for lack of better translation] called yesod [foundation]. This is the sixth of the "lower" sfeeros. It is the "foundation" of our Avodas Hashem. If we lack yesod we lack EVERYTHING. If there is no foundation there is no learning, davening, chesed, anything! Yesod is the "sixth" sfira which corresponds to the sixth day when man was created. The existence of man is rooted in the middah of yesod.

What is yesod? Yesod is being careful about all improper thoughts, speech and WHAT WE SEE. Meaning, a man must be EXTREMELY VIGILANT to avoid seeing an immodestly dressed woman. It might seem harmless to look at someone not dressed properly but in fact it corrupts the soul.

Now we get to the problem. MANHATTAN. There is a clear proliferation of amnesia in this city. Woman forget to get dressed in the morning. Alternatively, they can't afford clothing. Something is up. It is HORRIBLE. Eve before the sin. Some crazy yetzer hara that woman have to reveal all. How does one walk down the street? With his eyes down of course. But he HAS to look when crossing the street and to see where he is going. All I see around me is flesh. WHAT ABOUT YESOD???? Even cabs have advertisements for call girls [with "appropriate" pictures to advertise their wares] on their roofs. DISGUSTING. NO BUSHAH!

So what is a Yid to do??

Answer: DON'T GIVE UP. If there is an אונס and one has to look then it is not his fault. But despite the amount of pritzus he sees - an effort must be made to minimize it.

The Internet: It seems that every site HAS to have some pritzus somewhere. Youtube? If you are looking for a video of, for example, a tisch of the Toldos Aharon Rebbe, invariably a pornographic video will appear on the side of your screen. So STAY OFF YOUTUBE. Avoid ALL WEBSITES unless you are absolutely sure they are clean. I am not talking about "chumras". I am talking about pornography. Yutorah is clean. is clean. Guardyoureyes is clean. But most sites have SOMETHING objectionable. Even "religious" blogs will link to pritzus and many are FILLED with kefirah.

It is NOT practical to instruct the Jewish People to lock themselves up in a room because the world is so filthy. But we must do what we can to minimize the damage. I personally think I am going to move back to Israel and live in a religious neighborhood.....

In the meantime - I battle.

Join me.

Love and blessings:-)!

PS - After posting I saw that a recent post linked a word to an immodest picture. As I noted recently I don't make these links and they appear automatically. IF it happens PLEASE email me so I can remove the offensive word and link להסיר מכשול.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

On monday night I will be in the Heights. If any guys are interested in a little shiur - please email me. So far we have one man.


Open Ruach Hakodesh

Pilei plaos!!!

Watch  this

[By the way - the voice he used when quoting the Rebbe was what the Rebbe actually sounded like]

Peace Above All

This shabbos was the Lubavitcher Rebbe's 18th yahrtzeit. Here is an article written 3 years ago by Rabbi Y Y Jacobson based on a sicha by the Rebbe.

The Mutiny

The narrative is dramatic, tragic and unmistakably Jewish. Four individuals -- Korach, Dathan, Abiram and On -- lead a mass mutiny against Moses, the leader of the Jewish people, and his brother Aaron, the High Priest. What else is new, right?

"They gathered together against Moses and against Aaron," the portion of Korach records (1), "and said to them, 'It is too much for you! The entire community is holy, and G-d dwells among them, why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of G-d?"

Moses responds to Korach in brief and moving words. He attempts to persuade Korach, who happens to be his first cousin, that Aaron was appointed to his position by the instructions of G-d. Nepotism was not a factor.

"Then Moses sent word to summon Dathan and Abiram," the Bible records (1). "But they said, 'We won't come! Is it not enough that you [Moses] brought us out of [Egypt], a land flowing with milk and honey, just to kill us in the desert?! What right do you have to set yourselves above us? Even if you would gouge out our eyes, we shall not come!'"

These are bald and vicious words. Clearly, Dathan and Abiram won't surrender. They are determined, together with Korach, to overthrow Moses and Aaron.

As usual in the wilderness, G-d intervenes. He decides to wipe out the rebels who are attempting to invalidate Moses as the leader of the Jewish people and the communicator of G-d's law. G-d instructs Moses to announce to the entire community, "Withdraw from the pavilion of Korach, Dathan and Abiram." A tragic fate awaits them.

But before Moses moves to execute G-d's instruction, the Bible inserts an unexpected scene in the narrative:

"Moses stood up and went over to Dathan and Abiram."

Why? Didn't G-d instruct him to ensure that everybody withdraw from their dwellings? What exactly did Moses do when he approached them?

The Bible leaves the answer to our imagination, but the message is clear. Moses was attempting, one last time, to persuade Dathan and Abiram to terminate their crusade against him. He made one final attempt save their lives. It was to no avail. They would not budge.

The Talmud, commenting on this scene, states (2): "From here we learn that one should never keep up a quarrel."

Yet here is the simple question: Must we derive this noble injunction from this incident? Hasn't the Bible already stated explicitly (3), "You shall not hate your brother in your heart... You shall love your fellow as yourself." Does this straightforward commandment not teach us already that we ought never to maintain a quarrel or perpetuate a dispute, but must always attempt to eradicate the animosity and create love? Why would the Talmudic rabbis feel compelled to derive this injunction from the particular verse, "Moses stood up and went over to Dathan and Abiram"?

A Profile of Quarrelers

To understand this, we must examine the profiles of these two quarrelers, Dathan and Abiram. The Bible reports four incidents about these two men, sufficient material to capture the nature of their relationship to Moses.

Incident No. 1, in the beginning of Exodus, takes us back some 70 years, to Moses' youth (4).

"Now it came to pass in those days that Moses grew up and went out to his brothers and looked at their burdens. He saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew man of his brothers. He turned this way and that way, and he saw that there was no person present; so he struck the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

"He went out on the second day, and behold, two Hebrew men were quarreling, and he said to the wicked one, 'Why are you going to strike your friend?' And the man retorted, 'Who made you a man, a prince and a judge over us? Do you plan to slay me as you have slain the Egyptian?' Moses became frightened and said, 'Indeed, the matter has become known!'

Who were the two Hebrew's quarreling with each other? The Talmud and the Midrash (5) deduce from the wording that they were none-other than Dathan and Abiram.

Incident No. 2 occurs shortly after the Exodus when the heavenly Manna begins falling daily in the desert to nourish the wandering Jews (6):

"Moses said to them [the Jewish people], 'Let no one leave over any of it until morning.' But some men did not obey Moses and left over some of it until morning, and it bred worms and became putrid. Moses became angry with them."

Who were these men that betrayed Moses' instruction? The Midrash (7) deduces from the wording, yet again, that it was Dathan and Abiram.

Incident No. 3 occurs one year later, when the spies returned from the Holy Land and dissuaded their brethren from the motivation and willingness to conquer and settle the Land of Israel (8):

"The people wept that night. All the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, and the entire community said to them: 'If only we had died in the land of Egypt… Why is G-d bringing us to this Land to die by the sword?'

"And one man said to his brother, 'Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt!"

Who exactly was this man who spoke these words to his brother? Here again, tradition teaches (9) that it was a conversation between Dathan and Abiram.

Finally, the fourth incident recorded above, tells the story of how Dathan and Abiram not only rejected Moses' plea that they come to see him, but even went so far as to call him a killer.

Professional Rabble-Rousers

These four incidents paint a fairly accurate picture of Dathan and Abiram's characters. They were not idealistic adversaries, disputing Moses for ideological reasons: the fact is that they quarreled between themselves too, independent of Moses. Nor were they driven by envy, seeking the power and prestige possessed by Moses: the fact is that they fought Moses long before he became a leader.

Dathan and Abiram, it appears, were rabble-rousers who would not miss an opportunity to fight Moses, even if they stood to gain nothing. They were forever determined to undermine Moses and his authority. They even had the audacity of suggesting that Moses was a killer and that he would poke their eyes out, as though he were a sadist. Dathan and Abiram, it seems, despised Moses because he was their opposite: he stood for everything they loathed.

It is thus astonishing that after all of these incidents, after an animosity that persisted for close to 70 years, and even after G-d instructed Moses to ensure that everybody depart from their midst, that "Moses stood up and went over to Dathan and Abiram" to try and assuage their ire against him. This makes little sense. One could imagine that some Jews suggesting to Moses that his behavior was futile and humiliating. "You know, Moses, that these guys loathe you. For seven decades they haven't missed an opportunity to campaign against you. Even as you invited them to discuss peace, they responded with nasty words. Moses! For the sake of your dignity and G-d's dignity, it is below you to approach them.”

"Do not be kinder and wiser than G-d," they must have argued. "If G-d commanded you to stay away from them, just stay away.” (10)

Boundless Dedication

Yet here we are allowed a glimpse into what made Moses the human being he was. Here we encounter the gigantic heart of Moses. His dedication, loyalty and love to every single member of his people, knew no bounds. Even as his fiercest and lifelong enemies were engaged in an intense battle against him, he would not give up on the chance of seeking peace with them and saving their lives.

Ultimately, it is this verse -- "Moses stood up and went over to Dathan and Abiram" -- that demonstrates to us why the mutiny against Moses was so profoundly wrong. It was Moses' uncompromising identification with his people, no matter to what depths they might have fallen, that made him qualified to have all the power he had. Only a human being so selfless and humble can be trusted with so much power. Moses' extraordinary dedication to his people turned him into the authentic Jewish leader.

Only Peace

Now we can understand the Talmudic comment that "From here we that learn that one should never keep up a quarrel."

The biblical instruction "You shall not hate your brother in your heart... You shall love your fellow as yourself" merely suggests that one should not foster animosity in one's heart; one must expose and deal with his or her grudges, and ultimately learn to love his fellow human being, since on a deeper soul level, we are children of one G-d (11).

But how about when you feel that somebody really has issues with you and is addicted to alienating himself from you? What about when you can justly assume that no matter what you will do, this person will never change? Why not just write him off and accept the quarrel as an immutable fact of life? Why not make peace with the state of war?

This is what Moses taught us at the moment that he "stood up and went over to Dathan and Abiram." "Never keep up a quarrel." Despite the fact that he could have rightly assumed that his adversaries would not change their position, he did not allow any assumptions based on past experiences to stop him from his peace efforts. Moses knew that fighting and animosity among Jews was a malignant disease, and he would not give up the slightest opportunity to stop it!

In his Tanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi states (12): "Each and every soul of the house of Israel contains within it something of the quality of our teacher Moses." This means that we, too, are empowered to emulate Moses' example at least in some small fashion. To become comfortable with disunity and fragmentation is a tragedy. We must never cease to confront our arrogance and strive for peace even with people we can easily write off.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe

This Thursday, June 25, the third of Tamuz, will mark the 15th anniversary of the passing of one of the great leaders of our generation, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn.

One of the most outstanding features of the Rebbe was the way he dealt with those who opposed him. Sadly, some individuals in the Jewish world never missed an opportunity to criticize the Lubavitcher Rebbe, denigrate him and scoff at him. Some individuals even made it an important mission to sow hatred against him and his movement among their students. Motivated by ideology, ignorance, envy or arrogance, these people made his life difficult. And yet, the Lubavitcher Rebbe never ceased to love them and seek ways to terminate the animosity and separation. The Rebbe never made peace with the fact that "some Jews just won't get along with each other." He loathed disunity among Jews and sought every opportunity to foster mutual respect and affection.

I always remember thinking that if the Rebbe's opponents would only know how much he cared for their well being, they could never harbor negative sentiments to him.

Who Has Time?
A vignette:

A rabbi once verbally attacked the Lubavitcher Rebbe. When the rabbi realized he was mistaken, he wrote an apology note to the Rebbe and expressed his hope that the Rebbe did not bear a grudge against him.

The Rebbe responded: "Believe me when I tell you that I do not have the time to bear grudges against people."

The Rebbe attempted to inculcate this perspective in the hearts of his disciples as well. Where do you find the time to bear grudges against people? Where do you obtain the time and the energy to hate? This time must be used to change the world for the better!

If we, the students of the Rebbe, could only emulate his example.

(This essay is based on an address by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Shabbas Parshas Korach 5740, June 14, 1980 (13)).

1) Numbers Chapter 16.
2) Talmud Sanhedrin p. 110a.
3) Leviticus 19:17-18.
4) Exodus 2: 11-14.
5) Talmud Nedarim 64b; Targum Yonasan and Rashi to Exodus ibid.
6) Exodus 16:19-20.
7) Midrash Rabah Shemos 1:29; 25:10 and Rashi to Exodus ibid.
8) Numbers 14: 1-4.
9) Rabanu Bechayei to Exodus 2:13.
10) Moses Himself would ultimately call them "wicked" (Numbers 16:26.)
11) See Tanya chapter 32.
12) Chapter 42.
13) Published in Likkutei Sichos vol. 28 pp. 98-103.
My thanks to Shmuel Levin for his editorial assistance.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Who Is More Worthy?

A thought on Korach:

After Korach challenged Aharon and said that he is not worthy of being Kohen Gadol and that Korach himself is the man for the job, the pasuk says that MOSHE fell on his face. What about Aharon himself? How did he react? Ramban - HE AGREED WITH KORACH! He felt that in principle Korach was more worthy than he, but what could he do, there was a Divine decree that Aharon should be Kohen Gadol.
We should always be zoche to see how everyone around us is filled with goodness, or as Reb Elimelech said it - "She'nire kol echad maalas chavareinu vi'lo chesronam"!

A Shabbos of Bliss!


Those silly links that started appearing on the blog are not by me. Sorry!

A Simcha In Miami

A man in shul today told me the news...


May we all be zoche to feel the "Heat" in our Avodas Hashem. As the Sfas Emes says on the pasuk "והאש על המזבח תוקד בו" - The fire on the mizbeach burned in HIM - in the Kohen. I see too much קרירות [coldness] in Avodas Hashem. May we all warm up!!

Of course that simcha doesn't compare to the simcha of my beloved friend Ari Mirzoeff and his kallah who are getting married on Sunday in Florida. A huge mazel tov to them and their families:-)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Quote Of The Day

"If you want to be successful, it's just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing."

Will Rogers

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quote Of The Day

"I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me."

Like Moses

I am sorry but I feel compelled to write this....

This is a comment on the previous two posts. A true talmid chacham and tzaddik doesn't advertise himself. Rav Moshe Feinstein never had a blog [for more reasons than one]. I consider it quite pretentious to post information about shiurim or meetings held on my behalf. It staggers me with the question "Who do you think you are?? You are a nobody. LESS than a nobody." So it is painful to publicize my upcoming events. I am not being modest. Modesty is for those who are truly great and "do their thing" quietly. I am so small and insignificant. Recently I spoke somewhere and afterwards somebody approached me and said I should call up "so and so" to organize a shiur in the community. I still haven't done it. How do I call someone and say "Hey, my name is Ehrman and I give a great shiur. Organize one for me".

The reason I allow myself to publicize is that I think I have what to offer and people would benefit by coming. I personally know that I would benefit so that's at least one person. That is also why I am doing my best to stay in chinuch even though I have to fund the whole project myself [with help from my sponsors:-)]. It is not arrogant to think that you have what to offer. It IS arrogant to think that you are in some way superior to others. I hope I never become a baal gyveh. If I do, please tell me. The stench that emanates from baalei gyveh is unbearable.

I hope to merit being HUMBLE. Humility is the crown of all good qualities. The greatest man of all time was characterized specifically with that quality.

והאיש משה עניו מאד מכל אדם אשר על פני האדמה


Sunday Night For The Men

Copy of email circulating...

Rav Ally will be in Cedarhurst, this coming Sunday night (June 24) from 8:00 to 9:30 to share some torah, talk about Kollel Iyun Hanefesh and hopefully raise money for the Kollel's second year.  The event will take place at Adam Feit's house, 477 Barnard Avenue between Carlyle and Emerson. We will be davening mincha at 8:00 and maariv at 9:30.  I hope that all of you will be able to attend and to be able to have the zechus of joining in this wonderful project.  While the event is partially a fund raiser, please come even if you can not give money as your presence will be michazek the endeavor.  Please try to respond to this email if you plan on coming on Sunday night.  Also, please forward this invitation  to anyone you think may be interested.

If you can not make it on Sunday and would still like to donate, you can send tax deductible checks to my house (Steven Stein, 130, Oak Street, Woodmere, NY 11598) made out to Ohr David Outreach.  Each kollel fellow will be paid $300 a month. If you would like you can sponsor a fellow for a month or a year and receive the merit of his learning and growth.

If you would like to discuss the Kollel with Rav Ally he would be glad to and can be reached at 212-799-1124 or
Thank You

Shiur For The Ladies

Monday night at 8pm. 50 Overlook Terrace apt. 2f.

Thanks Ariella and roommates for opening your home.

Monday, June 18, 2012

This was forwarded to me. I thank S.M.

YOM KIPPUR KOTON TOMORROW! As many gather tomorrow to recite Yom Kippur Koton before Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, there will be a special gathering in Flatbush at Kehillas Bais Avigdor (Rabbi Kahn’s Shul--1721 Ave J) to recite the entire Sefer Tehillim before Yom Kippur Koton.  Tehillim will begin at 5:40 P.M., followed by Yom Kippur Koton at 7:40 P.M.  The organizers have advised us as follows: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, has written that Yom Kippur Koton is mesugal for all types of yeshuos- particularly health and refuah. R’l we all know of Acheinu Bnei Yisroel who need a speedy refuah sheleima.  The Tehillim and davening program are particularly dedicated l’zechus l’refuah sheleima for Yisroel Refoel Ben Sarah Nesheh.  The Bostoner Rebbe of Flatbush, Shlita, teaches on the Pasuk “Me Yemallel Gevuros Hashem Yashmiah Kol Tehilaso” is the source for saying the whole Tehillim (Kol Tehilaso) without a hefsek as a way to ask Hashem to indeed display His Gevuros by changing the current tevah (nature) and showing His Gevurah to His children by creating a new positive reality!

Why Do We Argue?

Chazal say that any machlokes that is for the sake of Heaven will last but if it is not, then it will dissapate. The reason is that when people argue for the sake of Heaven there is a common goal - to reach the truth. The argument is just on what the nature of the truth is. Such an argument will last because the search for truth never ends.

If the argument is NOT for the sake of Heaven then the moment one decides to forgot about his personal interests the argument is over.

[Sfas Emes]

It is worth exploring if our arguments are purely for the sake of Heaven.

This blog has a beautiful tan as I write from Florida. May I be zoche to see the beauty in every centimeter of the Eretz Hakodesh as I appreciate the beauty looking out the window on the 19th floor here in the Sunshine State. AHHHHH - the water, the trees, the sky. מה רבו מעשיך השם!!

The holy spirit of the Sfas Emes wafts through the air as I write...

Love and blessings:-)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

From the Jewish Week:

This week, Israel, as a “gesture,” returned the bodies of 91 suicide bombers and terrorists to the Palestinian Authority, who will bury the killers with full military honors, with the moderate Mahmoud Abbas hosting a presidential reception for their families. Among the 91 is the bomber who in 1995 killed Alisa Flatow, forever 20 years old, though she ought to be 37. Will anyone make a gesture to her family, to her delicate soul, to what was lost? After the bombing, her father identified Alisa by her bare feet, as only a father could do, forever illuminating that verse in the Song of Songs, “How beautiful are thy feet in shoes.”

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Becoming "Chol"

Chazal say that one should sooner turn his Shabbos into a weekday and not honor the Shabbos with delightful edibles such as meat and fish than have to ask others for money. In "Chazalian" עשה שבתך חול ואל תצטרך לבריות. Explains Rav Moshe Kasher in Hegyonos [page 134]: When a person has to ask for money HE becomes חול. Better Shabbos become חול than a person.

Beloved friends - My spirits are up and I thank Hashem for every second [see my recent post entitled "Baruch Hashem"] but all of this fundraising is making me feel pretty חול'דיק.

I almost ended the post with a sad face but instead...

Fifty Shades Of Frum - check it out.

Alone But Not Lonely

Sweetest friends!!

This Shabbos I spent ALL BY MYSELF for all three meals in the apartment my parents are graciously letting me use in their absence. Do I have zero friends?


I wonder about that [and what true friendship means and how to be one] - but that is not why I was alone. In fact, numerous people invited me over to various venues in the New York-New Jersey area. The reason I stayed alone was because I craved some solitude to the extent that I didn't even want to leave the apartment for shul [but I nevertheless forced myself - hard to do krias hatorah without a minyan and without a torah]. Since I was single, I have not had this pleasure. It is not that I don't like people. I LOVE people. All types of people. I particularly like people I married and children they bore me. So every Shabbos is a delight for me. זיצן צוזאמן מיט יידין - Sitting together with other Jews is a hallowed Chassidic custom and I am afforded that pleasure every Shabbos. But when ALWAYS with other people one tends to forget who he is and is swallowed up into the greater whole [as opposed to Yonah who was swallowed up into a "greater whale"]. This Shabbos [as the last 2 weeks living all alone] allowed me to reconnect to my true self and to think.

Think. What a Jewish activity!!

Maybe I will share some thoughts I had in future posts [excluding those that are between me, myself, I and Hakadosh Baruch Hu].

In the meantime I just wanted to encourage everyone reading this to try to spend some time in solitude and reconnect to your holy unique soul. 

Great Rabbi Leaves Town

Over 27 years ago I celebrated my bar-mitzvah in the West Side Institutional Synagogue on the West Side of Manhattan. The reason my family chose that shul was not because we davened there. It was precisely because we - and almost nobody else  - davened there that we chose it. It was a huge, beautiful shul with lots of seats and nobody to fill them. This way we could invite as many people as we wanted and there was sufficient room.

I don't think I have davened there on Shabbos morning since my bar mitzvah. Today I went there because it was the very last Shabbos of my friend Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn. Remarkably, the shul was full to capacity in both the men and women's sections. This is a testimony to the amazing job he has done there since he came. He resuscitated, revitalized and rejuvenated the shul and created a vibrant place of Torah and tefilla. His vast knowledge, charisma and many other talents combined with his tireless efforts to enable the shul to grow by leaps and bounds.

On the occasion of his move to Los Angeles together with his wife Shira [whom I know since just about her birth because she was my little sister's playmate] and family, I together will all mevakshei lev give him our bracha that he should continue spreading the light with good health, joy and limitless bounty in the material and spiritual realms.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Baruch Hashem!!!

A rabbi stands before his congregation and reports to them that a massive hole has been found in the roof of the synagogue.

"Now I have good news and bad news for you," the Rabbi continues. "The good news is that we have the money to repair it; the bad news is that the money is in your pockets."
I know many people who could help my casue BARUCH HASHEM. In order to help me work on my bitachon I am collecting very little. BARUCH HASHEM!!
Although money is barely trickling in I am getting a FREE EDUCATION in the subject of "life" and "people"!! BARUCH HASHEM!!!
BARUCH HASHEM!!! If not for my optimism I'd be frustrated. 
Baruch Hashem!! Have I said that yet. 
I am now going to dip in a Kosher swimming pool I affectionately call "mikva" and I am going to thank Hashem for everything and hope that in the zchus of Shabbos next week will be MUCH BETTER!!!:-)
PLEASE DAVEN FOR ME!!! Elchanan ben Henna Miriam. I need it. In the meantime I thank Hashem that I have two working kidneys, teeth to chew food, a mouth and throat that cause me zero pain and allow me to exclaim "Baruch Hashem" as many times as I want and if I wish I could have a years subscription to Sports Illustrated [I don't wish]. I also have a wife and children who say odd things like "we miss you abba". I have parents, a roof over my head, lots of friends [who ISN'T my "sweetest friend"] and if I would go to Sloan Kettering it would be for bikkur cholim and not as a patient.
Isn't He the BEST!!!!  
Have a glorious shabbos sweetest friends!!!!

Quote Of The Day

If you live above the clouds, it's always sunny.

Heard from my beloved friend Y.M.G.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Too Busy

May I share with you what I was thinking about as I walked down Broadway [besides "that's a fierce-looking-dog you got there Sir"]?


Being too busy. Some people are VERY busy. So they are too busy to talk. Too busy to listen. Too busy to answer phone calls or emails. Too busy to help.


Why is there no "z" in busy?


[If you don't know the roshei teivos - it doesn't matter for my purposes. I'd tell you but I have no time. I'm too busy...]

Then I started thinking about G-D! He is the busiest - yet NEVER too busy. NEVER. He is ALWAYS here to listen, to guide, to help, to care, to love.

Sweeeeetest friends - I am NOT going to give anyone mussar in this post. Just me.

Al: Try to be like Hashem. Busy - but NEVER too busy for anybody. Yes, being busy makes you feel important but being G-dly is infinitely more important than feeling important which is actually less than meaningless.




Strange Tattoo

The other day in the subway I saw a man with a tattoo. A TATTOO!!! It was one word. A Hebrew word.


What do I make of that????

Living With My Children

This week I had a REALLY spooooky story with someone else but I don't know if the person wants the story publicized so I'll keep it to myself. But another story I am allowed to tell.

Last night I dreamed I was at the dentist and he was drilling and I was afraid that the novocaine would wear off because the dentist told me he used very little. Then he started drilling deep into my nerves. Ouch. End of dream.

 This morning my wife related that my son was at the dentist in the morning which is the middle of the night American time. So it could be that at the same minute that my son was at the dentist I was dreaming about being at the dentist. [I had no idea that he was going]. My son had small fillings so the dentist didn't use nonvocaine.....

Do I LIVE my children or WHAT??


Let's Learn!!

Shiur tonight for the bochrim at 7:30 in YU Glueck Hall 3rd floor at 7:30.


I thank the organizers Y.W., J.B. AND M.D.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Name

Hello sweet friends!

As you probably know I am here in the States to raise money for the Yeshiva I started. Right now the Yeshiva is for married men but I would like to expand it to include primarily unmarried boys as well. It is much easier to educate and change people when they are still young and single. Right now I can't afford to expand operations because there is almost no money. I have been here for two weeks now and Baruch Hashem some people have contributed but very few and amounts that are generally not enough to sustain anything significant.

Of course I have a dream and I am not going to let early stage disappointment get me down. I am going to continue with what I have and continue expanding with an eye to the future. My trip has been extended into the month of July making the duration of my stay almost 6 weeks. I am remaining here NOT because I don't like my wife and children [:-)] but because of my determination to make this a long term success.

I really feel like I have messages and educational approaches which are effective and not quite so common in Israel and honestly see the value of the project for our people.

Special Offer: Anybody who would like the Yeshiva to carry the name of a relative is now able to grab this opportunity. I am renaming our institution and it goes to the highest bidder. If one day we have a thousand talmidim - the name and the merit remain perpetually.

Anybody else who can contribute [tax deductible] is urged to do so. The check can be made out to "Ohr David Outreach" and sent to 326 Kingston Avenue Brooklyn New York 11213. Next to "memo" write "Kollel Iyun Hanefesh". If you would like to donate with a credit card you can call 718 715 1800 [Israel time] and speak to the secretary. The tax id number is #25-1534209.

This blog GETS AROUND Baruch Hashem so many people know about what we are doing. If you are my partner and pass it on then you are blessed. גדול המעשה יותר מן העושה - Greater is the one who causes other to do than one who does himself.

Thank you beloved friends - for the past year and for the future. May we be zoche להגדיל תורה ולהאדירה!!

Love and blessings,

Elchanan [Ally] Ehrman

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Blog About The Blog

I try to bring only goodness and light into the world with this blog. That is the purpose. If anything negative ever comes out of it I apologize profusely and invite criticism for anything I say that is incorrect or uncalled for or otherwise ill advised.

That you for being my partner in spreading the Light.

Love and blessings!!:-)
"Affection is responsible for nine tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives."

C.S. Lewis

Quote Of The Day

When you tell people where to go but not how to get there you'll be amazed at the results.

George Patton

פרומיט בת אסתר מלכה

PLEASE daven for Frummit bas Esther Malka - a mother just diagnosed with cancer.

בתוך שאר חולי ישראל

Monday, June 11, 2012


We are having a little shiur [little because of how long it will be...] for guys  in Queens TUESDAY AT 8:30 [followed by maariv if we have a minyan].
Reb Moshe Shimon Frohlich
 6868 69 Ave Flushing NY 11367
Please tell anyone you think would be interested.

Who Is Happy?

Something Hashem sent me that I didn't write but agree with.....

People with self discipline

We are the biggest obstacles to our own happiness. It is much easier to do battle with society and with others than to fight our own nature.

People who are given little and earn what they have.

That is why lottery winners are rarely happier than those who have far less money — they didn't earn their newfound wealth. And they are often less happy after their win than they were before it.

So, too, those who get used to receiving unearned material benefits (such as government entitlements) are likely to be unhappier than they were before receiving those benefits — and much less happy than those who have earned whatever they have. That is why the entrepreneur who has worked day and night for years is usually happier than the person who inherited vast wealth.

People who do not see themselves or their group as victims.

Virtually every person can legitimately see himself as a victim — of an unloving upbringing; of bullies in school; of a loveless, or just plain bad, marriage; of financial problems; of membership in a victim group; of health problems; and of so much else. But however valid the fact of one's victimhood, perceiving oneself primarily as victim is the road to misery.

If the primary conclusion you have reached after years of therapy is that you are a victim, you really are a victim — of lousy therapy.

The post-'60s labeling as victims of virtually everyone except WASP males (blacks, women and Hispanics, etc.) has exponentially increased unhappiness in America.

People who rarely complain.

Complaining not only ruins everybody else's day, it ruins the complainer's day, too. The more we complain, the more unhappy we get. Want to raise children who will be happy adults? Teach them not to whine.

People who have close friends.

Close friends not only prolong people's lives; but on a day-to-day basis they contribute more to most adults' happiness than even their children do. From their teenage years on, children are considerably more capable of causing parents unhappiness than bringing them happiness. That is one reason parents who rely on their children for happiness make both their children and themselves miserable.

People who are in a good marriage.

A good marriage — having a real partner in life — is so contributive to happiness that it is almost enough. Almost.

People who act happy.

A fundamental rule of life is that the deed shapes feelings more than feelings shape deeds. We feel what we act. Act loving, and you'll feel loving. Act happy, and you'll feel happy, or at least much happier than if you don't act happy. The notion that acting happy when we don't feel happy is "inauthentic" is foolish.

People who aren't envious.

No matter how little or how much one has, envy destroys happiness. We naturally envy those who have more money or a nicer home, and those we think have better kids, better spouses or better jobs. But the fact is that we almost never know the pain and suffering of anyone we envy. As a wise woman said to me when I was in high school, "The only happy people I know are people I don't know well."

The next time you envy another person's life, just remember that you don't know anything about their inner demons, their childhood, their battles with life. Even friends often know little about their friends' marital problems. The unhappy think that those who walk around with a happy disposition have had less pain than they. They're almost always wrong.

People who don't have high self-esteem.

Low self-esteem doesn't contribute to happiness, and some self-esteem can add to one's happiness. But high self-esteem contributes to unhappiness. People with high self-esteem rarely have close friends. First, almost no one is good enough for them. Second, such people are usually insufferable, and while they attract sycophants, they repel friends. Self-respect, not self-esteem, should be the goal.

People who have few expectations.

The more we expect, the less happy we will be — because the more we expect, the less grateful we are for what we receive. And ingratitude is the mother of unhappiness.

People who are grateful.

Gratitude is the mother of happiness.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I received this email [I DON'T KNOW WHY...] and was encouraged by B.D.H. to post it. B.D.H. is much smarter than I am so I listen....

לזכר נשמת הרב אברהם בן זאב יהודה ע״ה
Rabbi Wahrhaftig had a deep love of Torah as well as all books. He was always reading, teaching and learning from others. He tried to see the best in every person and every situation, he simply had no ego. He truly personified,
איזהו חכם הלומד מכל אדם״"

Sunday night june 10 at 7 pm
Schreiber 8 south end court woodmere
shiur at the pool by rav ally ehrman
Wisdom to Love by - An Insiders Guide
all women welcome
(under 23- bring notebook and pen)
last part was a joke. last time i took notes was in my callah class. trust me. i think its better to just listen and take it all in rather than write. but thats just me.

End of email.

We thank the Schreibers for having us:-).

Please no counter protests opposite their house.

The Black Wolf - Life Is A Mirror


There was once a man who lived in a town called Tchentzikov. This man was no ordinary man—he was the rov of the town. To be a rov is a big honor and duty.

Regardless of all the honors they received, the rov and his wife were very sad. Why were they sad?
They were sad because they were childless.

The rov and his wife would have loved to have children, so they did everything they in their power to receive Hashem’s brocha. They davened with more kavana, they learnt more Torah, and they gave extra tzedoka.

Obviously, Hashem did not want them to have children, because what ever they tried not help.

After many, many years had passed—eighteen years to be precise—the rov and his wife still had not been blessed with a child. They decided to go to their Rebbe, the Koznitzer Maggid.

The rov went to his Rebbe, and arranged for a yechidus. At the yechidus, the rov spoke about how he wanted to have children.

When the Koznitzer Maggid hear the rov’s problems, he put down his head, as if in deep thought.

When he picked up his head, he said: “The gates in shomayim to have a baby are closed for you. For you they will not open. I cannot open them for you either…”

When the rov heard this, his heart sank. Here he thought he would get a brocha from his Rebbe, but now it seemed as if there was no hope. If his Rebbe, who was a great tzaddik, could not open the gates in the shomayim, then who could?

The Koznitzer Maggid continued: “Even though I can’t open the gates for you, there is someone who can. There is only one person who can get Hashem to open the gates for you. He is called ‘Shvartze Volf—the black wolf.’”

The rov knew who Shvartze Volf was. He was a mean man, and he lived in the forest close to Tchentzikov. Nobody liked him, because he was always screaming at people, and he looked like a monster. He was so mean and scary!

The rov thought that maybe his Rebbe was talking about another Shvartze Volf, who he did know about. But no…

“I am talking about the Shvartze Volf who lives next to Tchentzikov, in the forest,” the Koznitzer Maggid said. “He is the leader of the hidden tzadikim, and he is the only one who can help you.”
When the rov got back to his town, he started asking people if they knew exactly were Shvartze Volf lived. No one really knew, and most of the people did not want to know.

After doing much searching, the rov found a few people who did try to “visit” Shvartze Volf. But, all these people became scared when they heard the screaming coming from Shvartze Volf’s house, and they decided not to visit him after all. They did not know exactly were he lived, but they knew the approximate location, and they told the rov.

Now that the rov knew where Shvartze Volf lived, he had a problem. He wanted to make sure that Shvartze Volf did not chase him away from his house, as he had done to other people who were able to get close enough. The rov spent the next few days thinking about an idea.
And then, finally, it came to him…

The rov’s plan was as follows: He would go into the forest on a Friday afternoon, and pretend that he was lost. He would walk in circles and circles until he would “come upon” a house, which will “just happen to be” Shvartze Volf’s.

Then, the rov would knock on Shvartze Volf’s door, and say that he was a traveler who was lost in the forest and needed a place to stay for Shabbos. “No one could refuse a yid who is lost in the forest and needs a place to stay for Shabbos,” the rov thought.

So, the next Friday, the rov set out to follow his plans. Even though he was a little scared, and it meant spending Shabbos away from his town, he was ready to do it.

In the forest, the rov started “wandering around,” pretending to be lost. Then, he found Shvartze Volf’s house. It was broken and falling apart.

The rov heard screaming coming from inside the house, and it got louder and louder as he approached the house. It sounded like Shvartze Volf’s wife.

When the rov got to the house, he found a mezuza, and he knocked on the door. He then heard a Shvartze Volf’s wife shout from inside: “Who’s there?! Who came to our house?! Get away from here! Don’t you know that this is Shvartze Volf’s house?! Get away!!!”

The rov was actually pretty lucky that Shvartze Volf’s wife answered the door, because Shvartze Volf himself was much meaner and scarier, but the rov was still very scared.

The rov said: “I am a traveler, and I am lost here in the forest. I need a place to stay for Shabbos. Can you help me?”

The door then opened, and standing there was Shvartze Volf’s wife. She was so mean looking, and she shouted: “Get away from here! Go away! This is the house of Shvartze Volf. Nobody comes here! If my husband catches you here, he’ll tear you into pieces!

“This is not a place for travelers lost in the forest, especially you. You want to spend Shabbos here?!

Get away!!!”

The rov was so scared! “Well, what can I do then?” he asked. “I am lost in the forest and I need a place to stay, just for Shabbos!”

“Okay,” Shvartze Volf’s wife said. “I will do you a favor. I will let you spend Shabbos in the stable, with all the animals. But I warn you; if my husband finds out, you’re finished! I’m just doing you a favor.

“So, get yourself in there now, and don’t you dare stick out your nose, or else he might find out about you! Oh, and have a good Shabbos!”

So, the rov went into the stable, and sat down behind all the animals. He just sat there, and waited. He was waiting for something to happen. Of course, he was very scared.

After a while, he heard noises coming from the house. He heard two people talking. It sounded like Shvartze Volf and his wife.

“Shvartze Volf, I am going to tell you something that I was not going to tell you.”

“What are you going to tell me that you were not going to tell me?!”

“Well, somebody came to our house!”

“What?! Somebody came to our house?! Who came to our house?!”

“Yeah. It was some man. He said that he was lost, and he needed a place to stay for Shabbos!”

“A man wanted to spend Shabbos in our house? Oh boy, he’s lucky I didn’t get my hands on him! Did you get rid of him?”

“Well, yes, but I do not think he went too far.”

“What do you mean, you do not think he went to far? He was not scared enough of you?!”

“No, not that. I told him to go in the barn, to spend Shabbos with our animals.”

“What?! You told him to spend Shabbos in our stable? I do not want anybody to be with our animals, especially this man who you are talking about!! I am going to get him!!!”

When the rov heard that, he started to become scared. What would Shvartze Volf do to him? Would he rip him up into pieces, as his wife had said? The rov had a very strange feeling. On one hand, he knew that this man was a great tzaddik, but on the other hand, he was so mean and scary looking.
Shvartze Volf then came into the stable. The rov wanted to hide, but he knew that there was no point in doing that, because Shvartze Volf would find him anyway.

Shvartze Volf came over to the rov, and said: “You, are going to spend Shabbos in this stable. If I find out that you even stuck your nose out, you will be in big trouble, and I will tear you into pieces. Do you understand?!”

“Yes,” the rov replied. “Yes. I understand.” Shvartze Volf then left, and slammed the door behind him.

The rov thought to himself: “This is very strange. My Rebbe sent me here, to the leader of the 36 hidden tzaddikim. He definitely did not make a mistake. He told me to go to Shvartze Volf, that lives next to Tchentzikov, in the forest.

“It just does not make sense that everything I see is so ugly and scary. If Hashem wants me to get a brocha, why couldn’t he give it to me in a different way?

“But, my Rebbe sent me here. This was meant to be. There must be a reason why everything is so ugly and scary.”

Then, something else crossed the rov’s mind. “A tzaddik is a person who is not for himself,” he was thinking. “A tzaddik is for others. A tzaddik is always giving brochos, davening for people, teaching Torah and doing the things that Hashem wants.

“A mirror is the same thing. A mirror is not for itself. If a mirror would be for itself, it would have no point. A mirror reflects other people.”

After thinking this over, the rov thought: “Maybe the same thing applies by a tzaddik. Maybe a tzaddik is also a mirror and reflects other people, not physically, but spiritually. So, by looking at Shvartze Volf, maybe I am just seeing a reflection of myself, in an enlarged sense.”

With this in mind, the rov started doing teshuva for the little things that might be making his visit to Shvartze Volf so unpleasant.

Then, after sitting in the stable and pouring out his heart to Hashem for quite a while, the rov felt that he had tried his best to do teshuva, and he felt very close to Hashem.

Just then, the door of the stable opened, and in walked Shvartze Volf. He had the biggest smile on his face, and he was all happy and nice. He did not look like the Shvartze Volf from a few hours ago. He looked very different.

Shvartze Volf said: “Please come with me into the house. Be with my family. Don’t spend Shabbos in the barn.”

The rov got up, and went with Shvartze Volf into the house. Even the house, looked different. It looked so much nicer. And Shvartze Volf’s family… Everything was so nice and Shabbosdik—not like before.

The rov realized that his teshuva had helped. Shvartze Volf said to him: “I know why you came. You came to get a brocha for children. The gates in the shomayim for you to have a baby are now open. However, I would like to ask of you one thing; that you name your baby after me, and call him Shvartze Volf.”

The rov told Shvartze Volf that his minhag was not to name babies after a living person. But, Shvartze Volf did not say anything—he just smiled.

So, after Shabbos, the rov went back home, and pretty soon he found out that Shvartze Volf had passed away.

About a year later, when the rov and his wife were blessed with the birth of a baby boy, they named him after the leader of the 36 hidden tzaddikim—Shvartze Volf.


Love and blessings

Saturday, June 9, 2012

How To Motivate

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

It was a lesson I learned long ago, when I was a high school classroom teacher.
I was new at this line of work, and found that my greatest challenge was to find ways to motivate the students. I tried various approaches, which all were basically attempts to motivate by giving. I tried giving special prizes and awards, granting extra privileges, and even resorting to outright bribery in order to get the students to pay attention, do their homework, and learn the subject matter.

It was a wise mentor who taught me that you can't motivate students by giving to them. Rather, you must find ways to encourage them to give to others. The student who gives to others feels important, and it is the consequent sense of self-esteem which is the most powerful motivator of all.

I'll never forget the first time I tried that strategy. I approached the most recalcitrant student in the entire class. He happened to be a very bright young man, who was, in today's terminology, "totally turned off" to his studies.

I asked him to assist two weaker students with their daily assignment. I caught him completely off guard, so that his reaction was one of utter surprise.
"Who, me?" he exclaimed. "Why should I help those two dunces? If they can't figure it out for themselves, let them flunk."

Although I was convinced that any appeal to his sense of altruism would be futile, I nevertheless gave it a try. I told him that for a society to function successfully the haves must help the have-nots, the strong must aid the weak, and those who are blessed with talent must share their gifts with those who were less fortunate.
It was the phrase "blessed with talent" that did the trick, for he responded, "Do you really think I'm blessed with talent? I guess you're right. I am a talented dude, and I'm going to try to teach those blockheads a thing or two. But if I don't succeed, it won't be my fault!"


He did succeed, and very dramatically. And he recognized that if he was to succeed again at this tutorial task, he would have to be even better prepared next time. He went home that night and studied hard, and was indeed even more successful with his two "blockheads" the next day.

I won't go on to provide the details of my strategy of applying this technique to the rest of the class. Instead I want to demonstrate that this secret of human motivation is implicit in a brief passage in this week's Torah portion, Beha'aloscha (Numbers 8:1-12:17). In this reading, the Torah devotes all of the tenth chapter of Numbers to a detailed description of the sequence in which the tribes marched through the desert.

About two thirds of the way into this chapter, we unexpectedly encounter the following conversational interlude:

And Moses said to Chovav, son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law, "We are setting out for the place of which the Lord has said, 'I will give it to you.' Come with us and we will be generous with you; for the Lord has promised to be generous to Israel."

 'I will not go,' he replied to him, 'but will return to my native land.' "

"He said, 'Please do not leave us, inasmuch as you know where we should camp in the wilderness and can be our guide [literally read as "eyes"]. So if you come with us, we will extend to you the same bounty that the Lord grants us.' " (Numbers 10:29-32)

That ends the dialogue, and we are never explicitly told whether or not Moses' second attempt at persuasion convinced Chovav to accompany the children of Israel. His first attempt, promising to be generous to him, was rejected emphatically by Chovav with a resounding, "I will not go!"

What did Moses change in his second attempt? Quite simply, he told Chovav that he would not be merely the passive recipient of another's generosity. Rather, Moses assured Chovav that he had expertise which was indispensable to the Jewish people. He could give them the guidance through the wilderness that they desperately required. He would not just be a taker, but a giver as well.

In short, Moses was appealing to Chovav's sense of self-esteem. He was saying to him, "You are an important person. Your talents are needed. You are an actor with a part to play in this drama."

What I was doing, as a fledgling teacher so many years ago, to that turned-off student, was essentially precisely what Moses was trying to do with Chovav in his second attempt to convince him to accompany the children of Israel upon their journey through the desert.
When reading the text, one can easily assume that Moses learned a great lesson which caused him to abandon the strategy of promising to be generous. Instead, he adopted an entirely different strategy, one which conveyed the message to Chovav that he would not merely be a consumer of favors. Rather, he would earn the Lord's generosity because of the valuable contribution that he would make, and that only he could make.

There is a lesson here not just for teachers and students, or leaders and followers. There is a lesson here for all of us in dealing with other human beings. We must be sensitive to their needs for self-esteem. We must recognize their talents and what they can bring to bear upon whatever task lies at hand. When a person is convinced of his or her own importance and value, he or she will be motivated and will act accordingly.

Understanding the dialogue between Moses and Chovav in this manner allows us to readily accept the conclusion of our Sages. They filled in the "rest of the story" and assured us that Chovav was finally convinced by Moses' second argument and did indeed join his fate and those of his descendants to the destiny of the Jewish people.

Moral Corruption

For better or for worse I have to take the subway to get around New York. I saw an ad for a movie playing in the theaters. On the bottom of the ad it said something like "This movie contains profanity, nudity, violence, drug use" and a few other things I don't remember. So, we are told, children under seventeen require adult supervision.

AM I MISSING SOMTHING??? Should adults over seventeen be watching such filth?? Maybe I am just old-fashioned but my understanding is that watching evil promotes evil.

But that's just the goyim... or is it?

Closer to home. I was told over shabbos that there is a very popular book among young religious girls that is filth-vulgar-sleaze-garbage-impure-revolting-morally-offensive and it is very IN. I know nothing about the book and don't want to know. I just have a personal request. If you are reading it PLEASE STOP. It will contaminate your soul in a such a way that you might never be able to get the stain out. Forever. So please. Discard a book and save a soul.

[Please circulate this post. Most people who read this blog wouldn't read such a book and most people who are reading the book don't read this blog. After I first posted this piece a girl emailed me that her friends say they find it "intriguing". "Intriguing" is not a halachic category that permits such yuck.]


Friday, June 8, 2012

Yisrael Refael ben Sara Nesha

Please daven for yisrael refael ben sara nesha. He lost one child to cancer another to crib death and is in NYU hospital and is desperately in need of a yeshua.

Woman's "Asifa"

I received this email [I DON'T KNOW WHY...] and was encouraged by B.D.H. to post it. B.D.H. is much smarter than I am so I listen....

לזכר נשמת הרב אברהם בן זאב יהודה ע״ה
Rabbi Wahrhaftig had a deep love of Torah as well as all books.  He was always reading, teaching and learning from others.  He tried to see the best in every person and every situation, he simply had no ego.  He truly personified,
איזהו חכם הלומד מכל אדם״"

Sunday night june 10 at 7 pm
Schreiber 8 south end court woodmere
shiur at the pool by rav ally ehrman
Wisdom to Love by - An Insiders Guide
all women welcome
(under 23- bring notebook and pen)
last part was a joke. last time i took notes was in my callah class. trust me. i think its better to just listen and take it all in rather than write. but thats just me.

End of email.

We thank the Schreibers for having us:-).

Please no counter protests opposite their house.

Looking For Hope

I just saw that Mitt Romney raised 76.8 million for his campaign. That gives me hope because 1] I too am a Republican and 2] I am raising money for Torah which is of even greater importance than the Presidential election. I would be thrilled if I could even raise the  "point 8". In the meantime - No Joy In Mudville...


Ahhhhhhh Lichtigeeeee Shaaabboosssss:-)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mazel Tov!

A HUUUUUUUUUGEEEE MAZEL TOV TO MUTTI AND ALIZA ON THEIR ENGAGEMENT!!! May their union be filled with bracha, hatzlacha and hashraas hashechina!!!

What You Shouldn't Worry About

Rav Yechiel Michel of Zlotoshov:

I have a tradition from my ancestors that there are two areas about which one may not worry.

1] Things you can fix.

2] Things you can't fix.

You don't have to worry about things which you can fix - because you can just fix them.

You don't have to worry about things you can't fix because what help will it be to worry. There is nothing to do about it.


Quote Of The Day

"Don't ever think you have people figured out - they usually haven't figured themselves out..."


[This is after a day or so of intensely trying to figure certain people out:-)]

Get Others To Love

The Rambam teaches that the way to fulfill the mitzva of loving your friend is by PRAISING him [deyos 6/3]. Why is this the example given by the Rambam?

The Rambam says that the way to show your love of Hashem is by encouraging others to love him as well [Sefer Hamitzvos 4]. We see that according to the Rambam the ideal external expression of the internal feeling of love for another is to try to get others "on board" to feel the love as well. So with love of Hashem and so with love of other people.

A new insight into ahavas chaveirim. Try to get other people to love them as well.

Ever thought of that???

What's a Mevakesh for??:-)

[Based on Rav Baruch Dov Povarski Shlita Rosh Yeshivas Ponovitch, Bod Kodesh Parshas Kedoshim]

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Quote Of The Day

"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."

In Chasidus the "Behaaloscha es haneiros" is the neshama. See Rashi on the pasuk. We must LIGHT IT UP!!!

Dog Or Wife - Who Comes First?

I am staying in my building in the city that has 273 apartments. Sadly, most people seem not to know each other. טוב שכן קרוב מאח רחוק - Better a close neighbor than a far away brother. When we eat the korban-pesach the Torah commands us to invite our neighbors first. But here it's not like that. Everybody to themselves. I think I should organize a major farbrengen. Since I am the frummest looking guy here I will crown myself Rebbe. I will say I am from Michigan and call myself  ... The Mishiginer Rebbe:-).


Anyway, tonight in the elevator my upstairs neighbors [who have probably never seen me but we were very friendly to each other in the elevator], a couple in their 60's had an interesting exchange. She said "I want you to read that email yourself". He answered [with a slight edge in his voice] "OK, but first I have to walk the dog. I haven't walked the dog in a long time." We reached the ninth floor and I smiled and wished everyone a good night. They responded in kind, hoping in their heart of hearts that this very Orthodox looking Jew would not open up an advanced Rabbinical Seminary in the building with odd Yiddish speaking young men as students who always seem to be walking around with a towel and smaller velvet bags in a larger plastic bag.

Back to their exchange: I thought that putting the dog's needs ahead of his wife's needs was somewhat ill-advised. So if they were to come to me for advice I would have suggested that he first read the email. The dog can wait - no? If it was really important to him to walk the dog he could have rephrased his comment "Is it OK if I first walk the dog and then read the email. Poor Woofie hasn't had a good walk in days and that is really one of her main pleasures in life." His wife would have felt better. So it appears to me....

Remember - you can say a lot of things but it is critical that they be formulated in the most sensitive way.

I received an email on the post about the three editions of the Rambam. A good friend brought up the question of the value of the academic study of Torah [called חכמת ישראל or Wissenchaft]. For those interested I link here an interesting article on the topic and see the articles he mentions in footnote one. It's a big issue but I will not expand as I don't think most people are terribly interested:-).

Working On It

Although I am working on it, I don't yet have the arrogance [:-)] to feel that people should necessarily come and hear me speak given the number of Torah scholars in New York. So I feel a great debt of gratitude to those who attended the shiurim I gave this week and particularly to the organizers Y.S.A. and C.A.F.

May Hashem bless you all:-)


A comment on the "asifa":

Others have made similar comments but I articulate it my way with my own additional insight that the chonen li-adam daas has granted me...

ANYTHING negative you say about the internet is true. It is filthy, dirty and disgusting. There is an abundance of gilui arayos, shfichus domim and avoda zara - the three cardinal sins for which one must first die. It is the cause of bittul zman which is merely an elegant form of suicide. It destroys children, breaks up marriages and lowers people to the depths of depravity.

There are also tens of thousands of shiurim, sefarim, articles and videos on Jewish topics and countless aids in Avodas Hashem. We all know that. So it is not fair to characterize the internet in a purely negative light.

Water. If one drinks too much water he can die. Even water can be dangerous. Nobody would suggest we stop drinking water - just that we monitor how much we drink. Water is VERY important.

Automobiles: They KILL!! And maim. Every day. But we still drive - carefully. Cars do a lot of good. Try getting from Manhattan to Lakewood by horse. BUMPY! Or by foot - TIRING.

The telephone!!! If one speaks lashon hara it is worse than the three cardinal sins [yerushalmi] and the phone is the prime vehicle for lashon hara. Affairs. One can develop a forbidden relationship on the phone - at any place and at any time. And people do. But we still use the telephone. Carefully.

So we have a hadracha for life. Separate the chaff from the wheat, find the good and discard the bad.

Does this mean one should have internet in the home? No!

The internet is poison. But so is floor cleaner. In my house we have floor cleaner [I can't say I personally use it much but that just means that now that I am gone the floor is no more dirty or clean than normal]. So I will tell you how I decided. I have a Rebbe who is a formidable gadol bi-yisrael, Baruch Hashem. I decided that if he nixes it then I will banish it from my life. No more Mevakesh. No more email. No more. But he gave me his approval so I continue. So if you have a Rav you follow ask for a psak and act accordingly. THAT is my suggestion. [Chance are good that he uses it himself so don't worry...]

At the "asifa" they had various rabbonim speak [I didn't hear all of them and don't even know who they were. The part I did hear was ironically from the internet]. I am sure that each Rav is a talmid chochom, tzaddik etc. etc. CERTAINLY much greater than the meager individual typing at this computer now. But they are not the Sanhedrin and I am not sure that there words obligate every individual Jew. Let's say that I am a Belzer Chossid - I am bound by the rulings of the Belzer Rebbe Shlita and nobody else. If I am a talmid of Rav Asher Weiss then I follow him and he wasn't speaking at the asifa. If the asifa gave people chizzuk [as it did] to be more careful then WONDERFUL! But Klal Yisrael is blessed with many great rabbonim and tzaddikim and until the time of the Sanhedrin there is no central binding authority.


Would love to hear what people think.
Love and blessings:-)